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Carbon tax could be axed for good

The coming federal and B.C. elections could have an impact far beyond our borders, a Vancouver economist says.

“If both the federal and B.C. Liberals lose elections on the basis of the carbon tax, it would take carbon taxes off the table for all of North America, potentially forever,” said Marc Lee, senior economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Lee made the comments in a recent post to the Progressive Economics Forum.

Lee, who generally supports B.C.’s carbon tax, notes the federal Conservatives’ attacks on the Liberal Green Shift and the unpopularity of the B.C. carbon tax – North America’s only comprehensive carbon tax.

If voters do reject the federal and provincial Liberal carbon tax plans, “there better be one mightily effective cap-and-trade system to take its place, and the prospects of that seem dim, given the state of the Western Climate Initiative negotiations,” Lee writes.

However, a Seattle environmental think tank is less certain that political opposition to the tax in Canada will affect U.S. policy.

The Sightline Institute’s Eric de Place argues that “revenue-neutral carbon taxes are actually gathering steam in the U.S.”

Eric’s piece is worth reading just for his explanation of B.C. politics for U.S. readers:

… the Liberals are the right-of-center party that is currently in power in B.C.; they're the ones responsible for the provincial carbon tax. The NDP – the New Democratic Party – is the left-of-center opposition party, which has criticized the carbon tax. And yes, you heard that correctly: the right is proposing a carbon tax and the left is attacking it.

Tom Barrett is a staff writer for The Hook.

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